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Wyoming News Briefs

Baby stroller allegedly used to steal drone

CODY (WNE) — The Cody man charged in July with endangering his daughter by allowing her to be in the presence of meth was recently charged with burglary, theft and conspiracy to commit burglary after he and another Cody man allegedly used a baby stroller to steal a drone from Walmart on Aug. 2.

Jeremy Johnstone, 25, is accused of partnering with Brad L. Corbin to steal the drone. They face the same charges.

Cody Police Officer Steven Bassett was dispatched to Walmart at around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 to help employees identify two unknown males.

A Walmart employee told Bassett a drone was missing from the electronics department, and two male subjects, later identified as Corbin and Johnstone, were seen on security camera footage leaving the store with it, according to the affidavit.

A security video showed Corbin and Johnstone entering Walmart on Aug. 2 pushing a child in a stroller. The lower basket of the stroller was empty when they entered the store, the affidavit said.

The video showed the pair making their way to the electronics department. Corbin picked up a white box containing the missing drone, valued at $339, and placed it in the lower basket of the stroller, the affidavit said. The Walmart employee said he had found the anti-theft device from the drone box in the hardware aisle.

Corbin and Johnstone were then seen walking out of the store without attempting to pay for the drone, which was still located in the lower basket of the stroller, the affidavit said.

At the time of the alleged theft, both Corbin and Johnstone had been banned from Walmart.

If convicted of all charges, both Corbin and Johnstone could face up to 20.5 years in prison and have to pay a maximum $20,750 fine, according to the charging documents.

Man who allegedly hit city bus pleads not guilty to nine charges

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Cheyenne man who allegedly collided with a city bus near Frontier Mall following a high speed chase has pleaded not guilty to nine charges related to the incident. 

Kolby Cline, 26, entered his plea during his arraignment Monday afternoon in Laramie County District Court. 

Cheyenne Police Department public information officer Alexandra Farkas previously told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that Cline began driving recklessly near South Greeley Highway on July 18. He collided with the bus after running a red light at the intersection of Powderhouse Road and Prairie Avenue.

After the crash, which left Cline’s truck on its side, he allegedly tried to escape on foot. A Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper stopped him soon after. Cline was taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for minor injuries and released into the custody of the Laramie County Sheriff ’s Office for booking later that afternoon.

Cline was booked on nine charges: reckless driving, hit and run, driving without an interlock device, interference with a peace officer (resisting arrest), failure to maintain insurance, no valid driver’s license, failure to stop at a stop light and two counts of property destruction (greater than $1000).

At the time of his arrest, law enforcement discovered that his license was suspended due to a previous charge of driving under the influence, according to court documents.

The documents also indicated that Cline likely totaled the city bus he struck. CPD estimated that a replacement would cost roughly $150,000. Cline also allegedly struck another vehicle at the same time. The driver of that vehicle later went to the emergency room after reporting pain in her neck and right arm.

District Judge Steven Sharpe set Cline’s trial for Jan. 3, 2024.

Search continues for missing hiker in Wind River Mountains

LANDER (WNE) — The search for a missing hiker in a remote area of the Wind River Mountains continues with no sign of the missing man. 

On Saturday, September 2, Steven Allen Keller, 76, became separated from his companions just a short distance from the group’s camp near Steamboat Lake in the Wind River Mountains, within the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Keller is six feet tall, around 170 pounds, and was last seen on September 2 wearing a green jacket and a black, blue and green Patagonia fleece.

The members of Keller’s party immediately began searching for him. After several hours of searching on their own, the party reached out for help by pressing an SOS on a satellite communication device. 

The following morning, crews from Fremont County Search and Rescue were flown into the area to begin searching. A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the Wyoming National Guard as well as Tip Top Search and Rescue’s UH-1 helicopter transported searchers into the area and provided an aerial search. 

Severe weather hampered aerial search efforts on Monday. Tribal Game and Fish officials also went into the area on Monday and began searching. 

As weather allowed, aerial searches were resumed and more ground search teams were inserted into the area by helicopter. 

The remoteness of the area, the high elevation, and the extremely rugged terrain have made searching extremely difficult and there has been no sign of the missing man. 

As the search continues, anyone with any information which may be helpful to the search effort is encouraged to contact the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office or the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Game and Fish Office. 

Grizzly trapped, killed

CODY (WNE) — A grizzly bear was trapped early last Sunday after being spotted by a landowner in an area north of the Powell highway, near Lane 16.

The three-year-old male bruin was subsequently killed, said Tara Hodges, Wyoming Game and Fish information and education specialist. The trap was placed on private property between Roads 16 and 17.

“The bear had very much been frequenting developed areas,” she noted. Its tracks were detected in many places, and it had gotten into stored agricultural products.

“Unfortunately, it was not a suitable candidate for relocation,” said Hodges.

The decision to euthanize was made by a special team of large-carnivore specialists in consultation with the US. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees animals protected under the Endangered Species Act, she said.

The sighting was initially reported to the Game and Fish regional office in Cody by the landowner. Neighbors said the grizzly was first spotted in a field off Road 19 1/2 near Lane 16. Two hours later the bear was seen at another residence on Lane 16.

Luke Ellsbury, G&F large carnivore biologist, said he figured the bear came down from Heart Mountain, where there is a population of grizzlies.

“This is the time of year we typically see an increase in bear activity in surrounding areas,” he said. “This is not unusual.”

Hodges said that the public should be especially careful in the fall.

Cheyenne records massive uptick in precipitation

CHEYENNE (WNE) — This has been one of the wettest summers for Cheyenne on record.

The National Weather Service Cheyenne recently released the precipitation totals from June through August, showing that the capital city accumulated 11.02 inches of rain, which is 5.23 inches above average for the season.

In fact, it was nearly the wettest summer in city history, second only to the summer of 1985, when, over the same time span, residents saw 12.22 inches of total rainfall.

Steve Rubin, a meteorologist for NWS Cheyenne, was able to shed some light on what residents might expect for the remainder of the year following what he called a “fairly uncommon” rainfall.

“Especially with more moisture in the air, it limits the chances for temperatures to get too cold too fast,” Rubin told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on Friday. “A lot of this moisture will probably prevent us from having cold temperatures for a while.”

There’s also a chance that above-average temperatures will last through November, due to the high moisture. 

Gillette man gets up to 7 years for unemployment fraud

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette man who made false claims to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services to receive unemployment benefits has been sentenced to up to seven years in prison and ordered to pay more than $22,000 in restitution.

Klaus G. Paugsch, 50, received a three- to seven-year prison sentence at his Aug. 29 sentencing hearing for misrepresenting or falsifying statements to the state, according to court documents.

Paugsch qualified for temporary disability benefits after suffering a work-related injury in September 2020, while he was a Wyoming Lawn Pro employee, according to an affidavit of probable cause. He qualified to receive $1835.16 in benefits each month.

As a condition of the claims, Paugsch was required to report to the department upon returning to work of any kind, including part-time or temporary, and report his gross earnings.

The five charges against him stem from false reports he is accused of making from Jan. 5, 2022 through April 27, 2022.

In that time, he worked for Walmart, then picked up work with Manpower U.S. Inc. and became a Thunder Basin Coal Company employee in June 2022.

When contacted in October 2022, Paugsch admitted to working for those employers without notifying the Department of Workforce Services and while continuing to collect monthly benefits.

He was paid out $45,995.08 throughout the 726 days he was approved to receive benefits, of which he fraudulently received $22,189.52 between Oct. 2021 and September 2022, according to the affidavit.

Barrasso says bill ‘stops Biden’s attack’ on school hunting programs

CHEYENNE (WNE) — On Thursday, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., introduced the Allowing for Recreational Resources for Outdoor Wellness (ARROW) Act to stop the Biden administration from blocking funding for elementary and secondary schools with hunting and archery programs.

This legislation would clarify that the prohibition on the use of federal education funds for certain weapons does not apply to the use of funds for sports clubs, teams, trainings or related activities provided for students.

“The Biden administration continues its attack on our constitutional rights and Wyoming values,” Barrasso said in a news release. “Now, President Biden’s Department of Education is blocking funding for schools with hunter education and archery programs. These important programs help students learn proper firearm instruction and archery safety. These valuable programs decrease firearm-related injuries and accidents.

“They also connect our students to the longstanding heritage and traditions of America and the West,” Barrasso continued. “Our legislation will stop any attempts to block funding for schools with hunter education and archery programs and keep Washington politics out of Wyoming’s schools.”

This bill has received support from the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the National Rifle Association, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Safari Club International and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the release said.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., was among numerous co-sponsors of the bill, all of whom are Republicans.